Charlotte had decided to travel. She wanted to go somewhere exotic and far away from all the chaos and bullshit that had become her life. Okay, so like maybe using the word "life" was too strong of a description. Basically she figured on heading somewhere tropical with sexy eye candy serving rum-laden drinks with fruit skewered on a long stick and a frilly paper umbrella stuck right next the straw. Not that she drank alcohol if she could help it. She ended up terrorizing her friends and enemies whenever she poisoned her body with liquor. Not an ideal situation for a vampire.
Fun-filled days on a tropical resort was how she planned on using her newly-found money. She figured that she had roughly a month or so head start on her stalkers with the amount of cash she had liberated from the various safety deposit boxes. Truthfully the boxes had been lined so luxuriously by her stalkers. Not all money, but the cash was what she went there for; she had yet to look at the oddly shaped velvet boxes and the envelopes stuffed with papers. And besides, she definitely had earned it all, damn it. She knew that they would discover the theft in around twenty-nine days. And again besides, she really hated sharing so she didn't exactly want anyone to go with her.
After all, there would be the envious questions from any of her vampire companions like, "So Charlotte, where did you get all this money? Don't you owe Kenyon at least a couple thousand?"
And from there it would get pretty ugly. After all Kenyon hated losing anyone much less one of his oldest vampires. But if she really thought about it he wasn't really losing her -- just letting her go on a much needed vacation. Not that he even knew what she had planned. He had been distracted by all the killings in the city lately. None of them were hers but she knew it would get worse before it got better. She had been through these vampiric uprisings and they never were pretty. She needed pretty.
So she decided the time was right for her to travel, see more of the world and maybe watch the cute men on the beaches while figuring out what she needed to do once they arrived. They would arrive eventually. Kenyon would send a few and the ones she stole from would certainly want their money back. Not there would be any left. She planned on spending every last dime. She was good at shopping and traveling. She needed to escape the intricate games of politics and back-stabbing that was happening around town. Charlotte just wanted some sun and some fun.
Obviously she had some constraints in modes of travel. Her first choices for destinations were too far away since she usually relied on taking a boat or ship when she went abroad. Getting anywhere near Europe by steamer was always a month or more not to mention how hungry she was once she landed. Sailors were tasty but tended to get pretty anemic after a few weeks. Nobody took care with their health any more. It really was a shame.
She carefully considered her various options.
Her options were not limited by cash flow so that was a good thing -- hell, a rare thing too, if she was truthful. She was limited just by time and basic geography. Add in that normally she would simply pop on the internet and find out how cheap she could go somewhere ... but that wouldn't work this time. Kenyon had some real good hackers in his little core group of pet humans and vampires. She knew that he wouldn't hesitate to unleash them on her poor little computer. It would take them maybe a whole minute to find out what she had been looking at on the web and where she might want to go. Then instead of a nice leisurely trip spending money she would be hiding and running. That was never a good thing.
Driving around with well over a quarter of a million in the trunk not to mention whatever jewelry and gems were mixed in was mildly erotic. And that wasn't even all that she had culled from the dozens of boxes she hit in the past few days. It was just what she had picked up last night. The vampire stalkers were stupid and all had used the same banks. It was like they got a discount for using the chain or something. Charlotte didn't know but she simply drained the vice-president of the branch closest to her home of his knowledge and found out all sorts of secrets. The vampire slayers really hadn't picked the best of banks. That definitely worked in her favor.
When she had first found out about the humans and vampires stalking Kenyon, she decided to follow them back to their homes. A few weeks of watching or having one of her human friends watch the stalkers and she had some basic patterns. Charlotte figured out quickly how bad of a banking choice they had made, what with their monthly showing up to put 'a few things' in various safety deposit boxes: nobody questioned them. In real life most bankers didn't find that sort of patterned behavior at all normal. So when the vampire stalkers picked the same banks' various local branches (that never seemed to notice the constant safety deposit box visitations) she knew she had an opportunity to benefit from such careless practices.
Charlotte began her own stalking of the vampire stalkers she had researched. Between what she saw and what her humans observed she had some pretty detailed information. Her own cadre of humans weren't terribly concerned about civil liberties or the basic respect for boundaries, and they came back with lots of information for her to pore over and that was what gave her an idea. It had come as no shock to her that the precautions and safeties of the bank weren't exactly top notch or very elaborate once she was privy to the insider secrets. She made it a personal mission to crack their treasures. With all the carnage happening at the club and with Kenyon's inner circle of vampires, she wasn't being overly bothered by questions from the vampires she knew. Normally they would have questioned her disappearances and irregular behavior but being hunted really changed their focus. As in life it was all in the timing.
Armed with the specific bits of information, she began to watch the various banks her folks had told her that the human vampire stalkers had gone into regularly and tried to find a weak link. After a few weeks she found someone she could play. It was a pseudo vice-president, Jerry Walsh, that she picked who happened to have quite a few keys she needed and codes to get into where she had to be to attain her goal of getting access to the safety deposit boxes of the vampire slayers. It was a pleasant surprise for her to find out he was also a demoted regional president. As she dug deeper, Jerry, it turned out, had the exact codes and assorted bits of information it would have taken her months to gather. And much in the bank system hadn't changed since his demotion, she found out after she went to the second set of safety deposit boxes and she cleaned them out. It was at a different bank branch in the city, not Jerry's current bank. Of course, it was one of the many that Mr. Walsh had been in control of before his recent demotion.
The man would never know how much he gave up from his weekend of playing with her. All Jerry Walsh knew was he picked up a hot babe in the bar down by his mom's house where he had lived all of his life. She made sure to dress pretty sleazy and had a fake driver's license from out of state. Why was it that men always thought Midwestern women were stupid? It wasn't true, but they sure thought corn-fed gals were easy and slow. She did him slow and easy at first in the bar and once she found out his mom was out of town to go to a family picnic she took him back to his room and finished the job. He was very lucky she had been in a good mood; he got to live.
Of course, had she killed him all the codes he knew would have been changed instantly by the banks and that wouldn't have worked for her purposes. Jerry Walsh had only vague memories left of a dream date. She was pretty good at spinning the fantasy and keeping her victims deluded. Had he thought she was real he would have figured out her plan before she was ready to stop stealing. Instead he was left with erotic memories and unaware he had spilled all of his secrets.
But come on, really one would have thought banks would have been bit more secure. She was mildly shocked to find out how easily she got around all the various safeguards. The desperate, bitter demoted vice-president was so happy to spill all the details. Jerry thought he was going to be fired after the next quarter reports came out and hated how far he had fallen in his career. Even so she did have to exert a few of her finer vampiric talents to get past all of the safety nets. She grinned and hoped she could get the new blood splatters off her favorite suit. She never met so many thin blooded men in all of her days and nights. Charlotte felt justified that they would be having nightmares for years to come and never know what had happened. That was the beauty of her plan -- that and the back up security tapes for the banks were also in the trunk. She made a mental note to have a barbecue later tonight. It wasn't like the thefts would be reported but nevertheless she didn't like photographic records of any sort out there to trap her.
She had to find a good way out of town fast. Kenyon wouldn't miss her for at least a week. By then she hoped to be well on the other side of America if not a bit further more off continent. Florida was the best point for her to find a willing boat captain to take her to a distant island or three. Her car could make the road trip but she felt like it was a huge arrow. The fact it was blood red and a convertible sports car may have had a little something to do with that feeling. And Kenyon did know what she drove. Looking at her gas gauge she figured she might as well top off the tank. She pulled her car into a gas station and filled the tank up using her nearly tapped out credit card.
Sure, most folks would have paid some bills with the money, or at least paid Kenyon back what she owed him, but she earned all of that damn money. Her credit would always be lousy and after a few well-placed fangs she usually caught up on her past due bills. Lately Kenyon had put a moratorium on the supposedly 'senseless' draining of rich tourists or mere 'fanging in' to catch up the bills. He wasn't messing around either. He had killed one of his own as an example. He was the unofficial master of the city but that was undergoing a bit of a challenge. As she was technically his and he was keeping his vampires close to his club, Dark Whispers, she wasn't ready to voluntarily go too near him. From everything she had heard that was happening he had his hands and fangs full, so she wasn't about to get in his way or attract his attention any time soon. Maybe he wouldn't even notice she had left town.
Yeah, right. That was pretty much wishful thinking, but she wasn't too into over-thinking anything right now. She had a lot of cash and wanted to do some spending. The gas tank was full and she pulled the paper receipt out of the slot without a thought. Then she giggled. Jumping into the car she burst out laughing. It was too funny. Here she was filling up her car and she had no intention of even half emptying the tank. But if Kenyon had her credit purchases tagged it would be normal. Probably the last normal thing she did for a while. Laughing she cranked her tunes up in the car and headed to the freeway. She needed to find a way out of town safely.
Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-04-07